With the start of the school year fast approaching, teachers are looking at tweaking their instructional approaches to accommodate the ELLs who will be entering their mainstream classes. Many teachers will try their best to develop language and content delivery strategies to meet this need on their own. This may work for many, but it can truly be an overwhelming process considering the fact that only a small fraction of the students in the class may be ELLs. So the question becomes how they can meet the unique needs of the ELLs without shortchanging the other students. Also, how can they deliver quality core content instruction to the ELLs whose English proficiency skills are often intermediate (at best) or lower?
Is there a magic formula to make this happen? No, but how about looking at the ELLs first as individuals each with unique ways to process information? Then, with that information in hand, build class activities around that given intelligence? In such a setting, the ELL would be in groups with other students (EOs and ELLs) who share the same talent. Here would be an avenue for the ELL to acquire language and access content knowledge since the material would be presented in a format that would mesh with her/his learning style.
How do you start on this road? Try having students take an assessment to see what their learning styles are. In fact, why not take it with them so students can see what your learning style(s) is (are)? Students will be impressed with your honesty about what the assessment reveals about you and how you best learn. When I took the test with mine, they saw that I did miserably in music (which was no surprise to me), but excelled in visual and interpersonal. The other learning styles did not come close to my top two. The class results even motivated the generally disinterested ones because it revealed to them that they were good in something. Of course, this activity screamed GRAPH of classroom talents which I laminated and kept up as inspiration for them but also to serve as a reminder for me to design my assessments using this data. It was really worth the effort since it motivated those few who had given up on school in general (high school).
ASSESSMENTS AND ACTIVITIES FOR MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES With this link, you will find several assessments on preferred learning styles based on results of multiple intelligences assessments. This is only one assessment type, but there are many more free ones out there on the internet. This site also provides the teacher with the language to use in giving directions to each of the groups. So if you are a visual teacher, you would need to find new language for the other groups such as "listen to me", "try this", etc. Why not make a copy of that to keep in your lesson planning book as a constant reminder on the need to deliver instruction that every student will follow? Another idea is to structure your cooperative learning groups with the same learning types together. Another time, mix the learning types. ELLs would therefore fit in easily and therefore be more open to learning. Language would become side benefit:) Some classes even have learning centers where each learning center processes the key points of the lesson in ways that suit their common learning style. There are so many possibilities so feel free to experiment!
Here is a video that goes into more detail on learning styles and how they support full student engagement. Small accommodations are all that are needed. Common core will naturally support this since the goal is for all students to succeed in ways that work best for them. You will empower all of your students to want to succeed. You will build self-confidence. You will see your students believe in themselves.
ELL TEACHER PROS
Post-it 3M Flip Charts with Bleed Resistant Paper
Sharpie Flip Chart Markers, 8 Colored Markers